Since early 2023, the talk everywhere in the blogging world has been about AI. Will it replace blogging, making it obsolete? Will it basically be able to write the content bloggers used to write at a fraction of the time and cost, making us redundant? Do we need to give up blogging and find another job instead?
The way AI writing tools like ChatGPT are being spoken about in some circles, it might seem that way. But things are rarely that simple, especially in the world of the internet. Things don’t change completely over night, nor even from one year to the next. Change is much more gradual than that.
And whilst AI writing tools have improved massively even in a few years (which we’ll explore), it still has limitations that mean it can’t match human writing in many aspects, and will NEVER be able to match it because it can’t have experiences like humans can.
Bloggers should be aware that AI tools can now very effectively gather information already available online and create acceptable blog posts on topics that are very dry and fact based and require a simple, concise answer. AI tools however cannot and will never be able to match the creative level of writing that personal experience and a genuine passion for a topic can deliver.
In other words, bloggers should be aware of AI and it’s strengths and limitations, but there is no need to be worried, since you can still stay ahead of it by taking steps to make your content stand out as personable, original, creative and coming from personal experience that an AI can never have.
In this sense, bloggers can stay relevant going forward, if they know what type of content to write, and what type of content to stay away from. Let’s look in more detail first at the improvements, but then also the residual limitations, of AI written blog content, before moving onto how bloggers can protect themselves against this trend going forward.
AI Writing Has Come a Long Way In A Few Years (Comparison Example)
Let’s start with giving the creators of AI writing tools the credit they deserve – the technology has improved massively in just 2 years, to the point where it now can credibly write blog posts on certain topics.
Let’s demonstrate this by showing you two comparison videos where AI writing tools are tested, first in early 2021, and then just 2 years later in early 2023. The improvement was massive (huge thanks to the guys at Income School for running these experiments).
AI writing tested in 2021 (Lol – very poor)
Here are some key points from the video:
- The quality of the AI writing was very poor as of early 2021 – nowhere near usable for blogging.
- Whilst some tools could produce some sentences that made contextual sense, the vast majority of the time it produced nonsensical gibberish.
- It’s actually quite funny to watch the video to see what it wrote when prompted about certain topics. It’s just way off base and not even making sense most of the time.
However, to be fair, fast forward just 2 years to early 2023, and when the guys at Income School tested out the latest AI tools again, the results were much improved.
AI writing tested in 2023 (much better, but still lacking)
Here are some key pointers from this latest video on testing AI writing of blogs:
- The AI did produce the article much faster than the manual writer.
- The basic quality of the writing in terms of reading credibly and smoothly and seeming as though it was written by a person was actually good. The prose, spelling and grammar were at least correct, and the sentences made sense (much better than a few year previous).
- However, although the information in the AI article was fine and accurate as far as it went, it was still very surface level (just pulling data off the internet). It couldn’t go any further into the topic, because it doesn’t have personal experience in it.
- Sterile is a good word the guys in the video use to describe the AI content, even if factually correct. It didn’t come across as relatable or personable, just reciting dry facts. It’s not going to build trust or rapport with anyone reading it, nor get them “fired up” about the topic, where they can sense a fellow enthusiast wrote it.
- Some key, common sense aspects of searcher intent were missed altogether by the AI article. This again comes down to a lack of human experience and common sense that only a real person can provide (why are people searching this article?). Therefore, probably the most crucial reason why a person might be searching the query being tested, was actually NOT covered at all by the AI written article, because it lacks the experience and common sense to just know intuitively that this is what most readers would be looking for. It got a key aspect of the context of the article wrong.
Therefore, to put the development of AI writing tools into proper context, their quality has improved massively, but it’s still not perfect and has massive shortcomings versus creative human writing that it’s difficult to see ever being overcome, because it’s built into how AI works.
Therefore, saying that AI represents “the end of human writing” or other such claims, is pushing it way too far. Let’s look into some reasons why.
AI Still Lacks Certain Qualities
There are certain areas where AI writing tools, and AI technology in general, falls short of human capabilities. Here are some examples:
1. Inaccuracies – Although in the most recent test video embedded above, the AI did gather information that was correct, this doesn’t always happen when using AI. Even now, it still sometimes cites information/statistics that are actually incorrect, because it doesn’t understand context, grabbed the wrong stat, etc. Therefore, be aware that tools like ChatGPT can still produce incorrect information and also completely false sources/citations when prompted. AI tools cannot fact check something in the thorough way that a human can, with proper critical thinking, contextual knowledge and experiential knowledge. It just gathers information that it thinks is relevant or correct and presents it.
2. No experience – AI can never have a human experience. It can never enjoy things, hate things or gather up the wisdom that comes from living a human life. It can also never test or use things. It can only gather up information already available on the internet and combine it into a blog post that can, in a very dry, fact-based way, “answer” a question. But it can’t add personal anecdotes or other things that come from human experience. That is it’s major shortcoming, and one way bloggers can stay ahead of it.
3. No creativity – In much the same vain, AI cannot create anything original or unique. It can only read and gather information that is already available, that has already been created. It can’t create anything unique on it’s own. It can’t do original research, it can’t run experiments, it can’t plan strategically, it can’t review and use products. It can’t creatively combine concepts in a lateral, non-linear way like creative humans can. It can make connections between certain data points, but in a very dry, logical way. This is another major limitation of AI that means it will likely NEVER match a creative human mind that can think about things different (think “outside the box” to use one of those terms).
4. Common Sense & Searcher Intent – AI lacks the common sense and ability to understand context that only comes from human experience. Therefore it will make obvious errors or produce context that has obvious gaps in it in terms of topic coverage, because there’s just common sense things that anyone with knowledge of the subject can see it has missed. The example in the 2023 video above is a good demonstration of this – it misses the key aspect of searcher intent entirely in the article, because it lacks that ability to intuit what the reader is really looking for when searching a certain topic online.
How Bloggers Can Protect Themselves Against AI
Given all the shortcomings of AI that we’ve covered, it’s safe to say it’s an exaggeration to say that bloggers are now out of a job.
However, there are certain types of strictly fact based content that AI will be likely to very effectively produce going forward, making it harder for bloggers to compete against it. For this reason, you do need to modify the content you produce, and also make sure it stands out as NOT being written by AI, to continue to complete online.
Here are some suggestions in this regard:
1. Original interpretations and writing – Make sure your blog posts have a totally original take and come at topics from a completely different angle to other blog posts that also cover it. Of course certain topics require certain information that readers must have, but where search engines are struggling now is when the entire first page for a search term is just all articles covering the exact same information, worded in almost the exact same way, with nothing original in there (which is EXACTLY the sort of content AI is going to produce). They’re crying out for originality in the content, something that distinguishes it from every other piece of content on the topic.
For example, writing this article, I never even read the other top ranking articles that cover this. I just did my own thing with the comparison videos plus my own points. I don’t know how well it will rank because this space is competitive and everyone is talking about AI right now. But the point is I’ve produced my own unique take on the topic using the experiments of others, so it’s not just a copy and paste of all the other blog posts on this topic, perhaps with the wording and sections rearranged (commodity content). Try to make it unique whilst also providing the information that’s needed for readers.
2. Add personal experience and opinion – AI can never experience things or have an opinion; it just collects and regurgitates information already online. When possible, add content to your blog posts that can only be gained from personal experience in the niche, as well as subjective opinions where you’re playing different views off against each other, pointing out inaccuracies/fallacies, challenging conventional wisdom, and so on. Something to distinguish the content from what any AI can gather online and spit out into a blog post.
As a follow up on this, it’s NOT recommended to start blogs nowadays on topics you don’t have any experience, enthusiasm or opinion in, and are just researching and writing blog posts, because AI is going to do that better than you in less time and for free. Make sure you enter niches where you can add your own personal knowledge from experience that an AI could never have.
3. Original research – This is really a sub-point of the creative/original point above, but it’s really important when possible to reach out to others to do research and gather information that an AI can’t readily gather online. This could be statistics about a topic from experts/authorities, specialist opinion or information, personal experience/anecdotes or anything else that’s more exclusive and that an AI can’t just readily scrape off the internet. This adds more originality to the content – get something in there that’s useful and not already found online. You can still probably get away with gathering certain information that’s really spread out online and creatively combining it into a really useful table or infographic, but I don’t know for how much longer as AI gets better and better at hoovering up information already available on the internet. Try to gather original research not already available to make your content stand out.
4. Add personality to your content – Try to make your content and writing style as relatable and human as possible. Add your own personality in there as much as possible to distinguish it from the dry, unemotional style that AI writing has. Add in humor, anecdotes and general personality and flair that an AI can’t, to make it more obvious to readers that it’s a real person’s content they’re interacting with, not some dry bot-produced script with no real passion or love for the topic.
5. Avoid simple fact based content – One specific type of blog content that AI writing is probably going to take over in is very simple, fact based, one-short-answer-and-done type content (eg. what weight is X, how old is Y etc). Stuff where there’s no subjectivity, no interpretation, not really much you can add after the initial answer is given. AI is just going to gather this content online very easily and produce a blog post in less time for you, at almost zero cost. Or, people may just start using programs like ChatGPT directly for these simple question instead of even going to blogs via search engines. You need to target content where more opinion, subjectivity and human experience is required to give a full answer to the topic.
6. Run all outsourced writing through checkers – This is a slightly different take on “protecting yourself” from AI. If you do hire writers to produce some of your content for you, then from now on it’s essential to run it through an AI checker tool as well, to make sure it is written by a human and not just run through an AI tool. Although it is a cynical viewpoint, it’s fair to say most writers you hire are looking to do the least work possible for the most money, and using AI tools to generate content is one short-cut that’s going to appear very attractive to some freelance writers going forward.
Therefore, if you’re clear that you DON’T want content written by AI on your blog, be sure to run any outsourced content through a tool to check it isn’t AI generated. Here are a few you can use:
These tools are not perfect and do have important caveats – they can only give you a probability percentage that something was written by an AI or human, not a certain answer. And they can sometimes give wrong answers (there is another tool called Originality.ai that I didn’t link to because it gets so many of it’s tests wrong from videos I’ve seen). But they’re at least a start in checking whether any content you’ve paid for is likely written by a real person and not just generated by an AI writing tool.
As a follow up point, if you’re wary of AI written content, be sure to request personality and a relatable, human style from your writers in advance, and carefully scan what you get back to make sure it reads naturally and builds rapport and trust with the reader. Anything that comes across as overly dry, robotic and surface level writing, send it back or use another writer.